Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says his Cabinet has not discussed making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory as yet, but said the mandate is not out of the question.
The Prime Minister made the comment during the launch of two new Coast Guard vessels in Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas, yesterday.
He was asked to elaborate on statements he made on Thursday about the possibility of making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory.
“I was very pleased to see that (conversation) going on but it wasn’t in the context of something that was in front of us. I made it very clear, I prefixed the statement by saying if the virus or another variant, or another virus comes along that is far more deadly, then we will have to look at taking the kind of action that we’ve taken with other ailments,” Rowley said.
He said vaccines for the poliovirus and yellow fever have been mandatory for children in T&T for decades.
“We don’t skylark with our children and polio. We don’t say ‘well, you are free to say whether you want to have half a leg or a whole leg’. We will say, ‘look as a nation, people to people, and as individuals, this thing requires a clear decision’.”
But the Prime Minister reiterated that no discussions, far less for decisions, have been made on this issue.
“It hasn’t even been discussed among the Government, but I was simply making the point that if it gets to that, then the same way we made those decisions earlier, with other kinds of infections, COVID would be no different,” the Prime Minister said.
He said if the Government needs to take that step to decide whether or not to take a “chance” on COVID, it will.
“Whether it goes to Parliament or doesn’t go to Parliament is irrelevant because if the Parliament is required to protect the people, that is what the Parliament is for. Of course, when you go to Parliament, if you elect irresponsible politicians, you will get the outcome of that.”
Rowley said he believes the population is sensible but he said there remains a question of how much misinformation people have consumed.
“Unfortunately, many of our people are getting their news from misinformation streams put there by people who are either of ill will or ill-informed and that compounds the problems that we have.”